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Christians Must ‘Vaccinate’ Others Against the Virus of Antisemitism

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28 Jan 2020
Christians Must ‘Vaccinate’ Others Against the Virus of Antisemitism

This week the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, established by the United Nations on the anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on 27 January 1945. Exactly one year ago, Yad Vashem – the world’s premiere Holocaust memorial and museum – hosted an august gathering of international leaders from 55 nations who pledged to fight the global resurgence of antisemitism. As these potentates, princes, presidents and prime ministers returned home from Jerusalem, the world was just starting to wake up to the threat of the new coronavirus.

Sadly, the spread of coronavirus over the past year also has brought with it a renewed wave of the virus of antisemitism. So often, this oldest form of human hatred latches on to a real or perceived threat and becomes a fellow traveler with it. It scapegoats the Jews, falsely blaming them for every problem and peril that comes along. Christians used to be the chief purveyors of such lies, but today we can clearly see that this is no longer the case.

This week, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem hosted (online) some 750 Christian pastors and ministry from 55 nations as well for our annual Envision conference, scheduled each year around the January 27th Holocaust observances. We have no doubt that they represent multitudes of Christians worldwide who are deeply committed to combating all forms of antisemitism – including the corona-related version now making the rounds.

Ever since the corona outbreak started one year ago, the twisted interests on the far-Left and far-Right have converged in targeting Jews for either creating or taking advantage of this pandemic to further their purported goals of self-enrichment and global dominance.

It is nothing new for people to blame infectious diseases on Jews. When the Black Death swept across Europe in the 14th Century, the Jewish people were widely blamed (and even tortured and executed) because there were so few Jewish victims – which mainly resulted from their communal ritual of simply washing their hands before meals. Hitler and the Nazis also routinely described the Jews as parasites and disease-bearing vermin who needed extermination.

In the case of COVID-19, some have claimed the virus is a ‘hoax’ conjured up by Jews to provide a global emergency which allows them to take over governments or exploit the accompanying economic crisis. Others have insisted corona is a real viral threat created by Jews for the very same dubious aims.

Early on, when Israel largely escaped the worst of the first wave of the coronavirus through an effective governmental-societal response, some used Israel’s good fortune to accuse Israeli leaders and “Zionists” of being behind a viral plot.

Such outrageous conspiracy theories have been widely promoted on the Internet and social media. Even tech giants like Facebook and Twitter have faced criticism for letting such racist hate-speech to appear on their platforms, including from such sources as Iranian leaders.

In the UK, for instance, there were numerous social media posts which linked the spread of the virus to new 5G towers and networks, and suggested Jews either owned the networks or were building towers in non-Jewish neighborhoods. An Oxford survey in the UK also found that 20% of all Britons believed that Jews were somehow behind corona, and indeed many social media posts referred to it as the “Jew flu”.

Conspiracy theories also are now cropping up around the Internet regarding the vaccines being rapidly developed to fight COVID-19. There are many variants of this canard as well, but a common one follows the familiar line that Jews created this global health crisis in order to ‘depopulate’ certain non-Jewish people groups or force them to take vaccines that will render them sterile.

While the lack of proper long-term testing of the new vaccines is a genuine concern, this has nothing to do with the Jewish people. Further, it is ironic that Israel has become the country with the most ambitious plan for mass vaccinations using these new, largely untested vaccines.

In the face of this wave of corona-related scapegoating of Jews, some of the prominent monitors of antisemitism, such as the ADL, have concentrated on Right-wing and ultra-nationalist culprits, such as ‘white supremacists’, Q-Anon conspiracy theorists, and the Nation of Islam. But one study concluded the recent spate of corona-related antisemitic outbursts can be attributed to a small but very active network of a few dozen far-Right extremists.

Further, when we look at some of the other widespread expressions of antisemitism over recent months, it is clear the extreme Left and extreme Right each have their own share of militantly anti-Jewish elements.

For instance, both far-Left and far-Right agitators carried out vandalism, arson and other violent attacks on several synagogues across America in the wake of last summer’s spate of George Floyd protests.

Radical leftists, especially students on American university campuses, also remained very active in pushing the antisemitic BDS campaign, which continues to gain traction in Europe as well. For example, three German MPs, a leading German diplomat, the socialist youth organization, and several German cultural NGOs were all singled out by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2020 for promoting the Boycott-Divest-Sanction agenda against the Jewish state.

One important angle to note in all of this is the paucity of Christians openly involved in these antisemitic outrages. Christians may have been among the main spreaders of antisemitic tropes against Jews in the past, but ever since the Auschwitz death camp was liberated exactly 76 years ago this week, Christian attitudes towards the Jewish people have undergone a sea change.

Evangelical Christians in particular – today the fastest growing stream of Christianity at some 700 million adherents worldwide – are some of the most ardent, vocal supporters and admirers of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. We are defending Jews from these canards, not spreading them. The atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust were a wake-up call to the Christian world, and it has essentially ‘vaccinated’ several generations of Christians now from being susceptible to the new strains of the same old repackaged antisemitic lies and slanders.

But the need to inoculate others – including future Christian generations – from the virus of antisemitism demands that we continue to undertake serious efforts at Holocaust remembrance and education. That is why the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem holds our annual Envision conference for pastors and ministry leaders to coincide with the January 27th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It took place this year online, due to corona, but we now have hundreds more Christian leaders from dozens of countries who just took part in this week’s events and are fully equipped to vaccinate others against baseless Jew-hatred.

So amid all the bad news about corona-related antisemitism, there is good news about the Jewish people’s steadfast friends in the Christian world.
 

David Parsons is Vice President & Senior Spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org/

 

PS: To learn more about the ICEJ’s work with Yad Vashem, please check out our page on Christian Friends of Yad Vashem at: icej.org/yadvashem

PS II: Our friends at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs recently produced a new video on the subject of corona-related antisemitism, entitled: Conspiracies, Jews, and the Jewish State. Watch it here: jcpa.org/video/conspiracies
 

 

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